Senate Committee on Education Chair Jill Tokuda gave the following speech during today’s Session, defending the teacher evaluation and instructional time bills.
The votes I’ve asked you to take, the measures I’ve asked you to move, have by no means been easy. It’s required a great deal of political will, and at many points trust and faith in myself and our education committee to do what is best for our students.
That being said, while today we closed the door on our performance management system bills, I continue to stand by the work we started but was unable to finish. While the fear and rhetoric seems to have clouded and distorted the facts surrounding both our evaluation and instructional time bills, let me be clear…these measures put students first and clearly stated…LEARNING MATTERS.
In stating that evaluation systems for teachers, which are already in statute and well within our collective bargaining rights as defined in Chapter 89-9, should have as a component student growth, we are saying…LEARNING MATTERS.
In looking at the definition of instructional time and refocusing the discussion from teacher contract minutes to identifying those teachable moments where students learn best and increase access to those opportunities, we are clearly and definitively saying…LEARNING MATTERS.
While Tuesday had its share of highs and lows, I went home that night reaffirmed that when a legislature takes a stand and makes a bold policy statement like principal evaluations must include student growth, our children win. It took some time, but principal evaluations tied to student achievement as prescribed in statute through Act 51, showed me it works.
When we as a legislature embrace our constitutionally defined role to provide the Board of Education with the power to formulate statewide educational policy, involved parties like our Department, the Board and Unions can and will come together to put students first and make it clear that LEARNING MATTERS.
Many of the targeted emails the unions has asked Windward District teachers to send to me has said, “You are not putting students first when you put teachers last.” While we definitely were not putting teachers last, they have to know that this isn’t all about them. It has always been, as it always should be, about the kids.
I truly believe that if teachers look beyond the fear and rhetoric, and read the measures we’ve put forward with an open mind, they would clearly see proposals that respect teaching as a profession and in no way infringes upon their collective bargaining rights. For years, teachers have asked to be treated, respected, and supported as professionals. Without arguing all the specifics, that is exactly what these bills would have done.
You know, perhaps I have a conflict of interest. As a mother of two little boys who will be in our public schools in a few years, I want the very best for them. And I know that I’m not alone.
All of us here wants and expects nothing less than that for everyone’s child. Which is why when we know that a student in one school receives 75 minutes less, that’s 2 months worth of instruction per year, less than a student in a school down the road, that is not acceptable. That if students in our schools are not making the kind of gains we’d like to see, are not learning, that is not acceptable. And that when business as usual, while comfortable, predictable and in some cases controllable, is not working…that is not acceptable.
So colleagues, when you get asked by constituents why. Why did you push so hard, why did you even vote to keep those bills moving, why did you put up a fight? You can hold your head high and say, because what we saw was not acceptable, and by putting students first…we made it clear that LEARNING MATTERS.Posted by Hawaii Senate Majority Caucus | 0 comments